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Title: World War commemoration and the politics of the Union in the British Isles, 1994-2016
Author: Kenealy, Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 728X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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The commemoration of the World Wars has frequently attracted controversy and widespread debate, revealing tensions and divergence between politicians, academics and other commentators with regards to the thematic justification, tone and narratives of commemorative events. Within the United Kingdom these debates have been complicated by the multi-national nature of the state. Here, commemoration can simultaneously draw on shared experiences of past conflicts involving all nations within the state as well as highlight divergent sub-state national forms of remembrance. In the UK, war commemoration has predominantly been based on widespread political and popular subscription to mutually inclusive narratives, rituals and symbols of remembrance involving all the nations of the UK. This, however, obscures the presence of multi-national asymmetries in ‘national’ forms of history, memory and identity. It also overlooks the existence of distinctive experiences and legacies of war that inform commemoration in England, Scotland, Wales and the island of Ireland. Additionally, since 1994 the UK has undergone a series of socio-economic, cultural and political changes, which have created different dynamics for the politics of national remembering. The advent of devolution in Scotland and Wales in 1998, the Northern Ireland Peace Process and resultant Good Friday Agreement, the election of the SNP in Scotland and subsequent referendum on Scottish independence, for example, all contributed to the creation of a new political climate in which the representation and commemoration of the World Wars took place. Through the adoption of a ‘Four Nations’ framework, then, this thesis seeks to contextualise changing patterns of remembrance. It considers how far this shifting political climate impacted upon the tone and focus of World War commemoration from 1994 to June 2016, prior to the ‘Brexit’ vote. In this, it not only highlights the complexities arising from the multi-national nature of the state, but also adds a new dimension to our knowledge of official commemorative practices across the UK and its links to and interactions with the politics of the Union. This thesis is formed of two parts, consisting of five chapters in total. Part One focuses on ‘state’ approaches to and involvement in commemoration with Chapters One and Two analysing the Westminster Government and institution of the monarchy respectively. Following that, Part Two explores the approaches to commemoration adopted by the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh devolved governments in turn. It will also analyse World War commemoration in the Republic of Ireland where it relates to the UK. This is due, in no small part, to the intertwined nature of the history and politics of these two states.
Supervisor: Biagini, Eugenio Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: British Isles ; Four Nations History ; World War Commemoration